Down Under: NZ PM Ardern Imposes Lockdown In Auckland For Two More Weeks, Melbourne Moves To End World's Longest '234-Day' Lockdown

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Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city and economic hub, will continue to be in lockdown for two more weeks as it battles to contain the Delta variant of coronavirus even as country attempts to accelerate its vaccination drive.

The decision to further extend the lockdown was announced by Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern today (Oct 18). Lockdown has already been in place for over two months in Auckland.

New Zealand is fighting a Delta outbreak that has spread across Auckland and neighbouring regions despite tough lockdown and border closures.

New Zealand announced 60 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday, with the total number of cases in the outbreak hitting 2,005.

While close to 90% of Auckland's eligible population has been administered at least one dose of vaccine, Ardern has not yet announced a specific point in vaccination levels where restrictions will be loosened,

New Zealand has struggled to expedite its vaccination campaign. Just 82% of New Zealand eligible population of an estimated 4 million (those aged 12 and over) have had at least one vaccination, or 70% of the total population; 64% of the eligible population, or 55% of the full population are fully inoculated with both shots.

Australia

Melbourne, which has spent more time under COVID-19 lockdowns than any other city in the world, has finally lifted its stay-at-home orders.

Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria state of which Melbourne is the capital, announced the easing of curbs on Sunday (Oct 17).

Melbourne been under six lockdowns totaling more than eight months since March 2020. Australian and other media call this the longest in the world, exceeding that in Buenos Aires by about a month.

Victoria's double-vaccination rate is set to reach 70 percent this week.

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